Cecilia House follows Patricia after a series of events destroys the life she knew. What served as your inspiration as you wrote this provocative story?
I spoke to a survivor firsthand from such abuse that occurred in the 1960s. One thing she said really got to me. “We never had a voice while those terrible things were happening.” I wanted to be their voice and bring to light one story that I know does just that. I based it during the 1930’s because even fewer people cared about what was happening. The survivors and their families are my inspiration because they never gave up in the pursuit of justice. When they read my book they told me I inspired them in so many ways. There is not greater joy for a writer to hear that.
I enjoyed the themes of family and friends running through the novel. What were some ideas that were important for you to explore in this book?
Those children went through so much hell and I wanted to explore in depth how they came to be there. I was able to do that with the main character Patricia. She had such a happy family life prior to the orphanage but others there did not. Patricia gives the reader first-hand knowledge of her own life whilst creating relationships with the girls to discover that their lives were nothing like hers.
I appreciated how realistic and emotional this book is. What do you hope readers take away from your book?
Never give up in the pursuit of what is right despite how many years may have passed. Countless people have gone to their graves suffering so much. If my book encourages many who are reluctant to take action for those harmed then I will have achieved one of many goals I set for myself.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am working on a book loosely based on a true story set during the Holocaust. At this stage I am aiming for a May or June release date.
Life is a precious gift and it can change within the blink of an eye, something Patricia discovered at a young age. After an extremely tragic event her loving family, good friends and many dreams and aspirations were all gone. An unwanted child sent to what was supposed to be a place of lovingness and warmth. Instead she soon discovered that those responsible for her care added so much more pain and sadness to many lives. What occurred within the walls of Cecilia House was one of the most despicable and unimaginable acts to ever happen within an organization whose duty it was to protect innocent children.
Cecilia House by Simon Gandossi is a heart-wrenching retelling of a girl’s stolen adolescence. From the very first page, the author creates a gripping air of suspense and it sparks a desire to understand what happened in the past leading up to the initial scene. We are introduced to Ruth, who is going through her recently deceased mother’s belongings and comes across a revelation that has her reeling. Her mother, after suffering the loss of her entire family, ended up in an orphanage that did nothing to help her heal from her trauma but instead made it all worse. The only consolation is that from the perspective given, you know her mother survived. However, while she goes through the trauma, it is all consuming.
The best thing about the book is that the author created such a compelling main character that it was easy to be captivated by her and sympathize with her plight. I was able to go through all of her changing emotions with her and even grow with her as the years progressed.
At times, the language of the novel was somewhat simplistic but this seemed to be more of a reflection of the character at the time. The characters were well developed and as dramatic as the events were in the book, it was all very realistic. At the same time, the subject matter was presented with a certain level of detachment that kept me continuously engaged as opposed to being overwhelmed by the events. The themes of family and friendship were prominent throughout the novel. The concept of chosen families also played a significant undercurrent role.
I like that the author didn’t strive to portray any unrealistic future whether unrealistically positive or unrealistically negative. Overall, Cecilia House was an extraordinary read, with a gripping ending.
Pages: 322 | ASIN: B07YNH1VXT
The story begins in 2009, where an old woman is being interviewed to tell the story of her history as a fighter in the French resistance to the German army in the 1940’s. In the narrative told by Sarah Ashdown, the character that this history revolves around, readers are bounced seamlessly back and forth between the two eras, and listen as Sarah gives detail about the progression of her life. Simon Gandossi, the author of the story, allows readers peeks at Sarah’s life now as an elderly woman in a nursing home with friends and memories to pass the days with.
England marks the setting for the beginning of the story, but most of the events take place in France or other war zones. By following the reflective narrative of Sarah Ashcroft, an elderly woman being interviewed by a TV reporter about her actions in the war against the Nazis, you’ll learn about the horrific events that took place during the bombings and raids of World War II.
While the majority of the story focuses on Sarah, as she is the one re-telling it to those interested, you also get peeks into the lives of those of both in her past and present. A friendly nurse Patty makes a frequent appearance, and the disorganized reporter himself Daniel Warwick provides a sturdy companion to her as she gives him the story.
After leaving her English hometown and abandoning her family and friends after the disappearance of her husband and the loss of a dear friend, Sarah makes her way to France to help fight the German’s and do her part to end the war. Sarah is met with many difficulties, since she is a woman, but she is a beautiful character, full of strength and wit, and consistently her own worst critic.
Throughout the story, you get to see Sarah’s life in the present setting play out in her nursing home, and the toll of telling the gruesome tale of her war experiences is slowly made evident to the readers. Gandossi takes you on a thrilling, heart-wrenching ride of what life as a soldier in the 1940’s was like, and compels those to feel deeply for Sarah as she agonizes over her decisions.
This isn’t a cheerful story; as few stories about war are. In fact, it’s a heavy read, full of history and heroic deeds. I enjoyed it, but I’ve never liked stories that are sad even until the very end. It made me really think about how hard life was for those suffering through the war in the 1940’s, and it gave me unique insight I’ve never read before. The way Gandossi narrates the story through the voice of Sarah is inspiring and gives an intimate touch.
Pages: 435 | ASIN: B01N6JGBQK
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